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Annihilator "Carnival Diablos" Album Review: the entry of Joe Comeau into the band

Updated on December 8, 2017

An image of the CD Carnival Diablos

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Carnival Diablos features the vocal mastery of Joe Comeau

Long time Canadian thrash metal band Annihilator returns yet again with another album full of fast guitar playing, tremendous drumming, and incredible musicianship to start the new century. This new album at that time was "Carnival Diablos" and it is overall an effort by the band that their fans will remember for years to come. Diablos is the plural version for the word devil in Spanish. Released in 2001, this album features most of the lineup that was present on their previous album called “Criteria for a Black Widow.” The only new member on this album is Joe Comeau who used to play guitar for the American thrash metal band Overkill. He does quite a job with the vocals on this album. He is the only non-Canadian band member on this album. Annihilator is a band that has for the most part stuck to their roots without selling out and following what the trends are and they should be respected for that. This album is more evidence that supports this belief. Guitarist and founder of the band Jeff Waters produced and engineered this album. He has put together 11 solid songs including a softer song at the end which is part of song 11 at the end of the CD.

Here is the track listing for the album:

Carnival Diablos: the songs

  1. Denied
  2. The Perfect Virus
  3. Battered
  4. Carnival Diablos
  5. Shallow Grave
  6. Time Bomb
  7. The Rush
  8. Insomniac
  9. Liquid Oval (instrumental)
  10. Epic of War
  11. Hunter Killer (with a hidden bonus track Chicken and Corn).

The song called Battered

How good is Carnival Diablos? Very Good!

If there were any doubts as to whether Carnival Diablos would be a less than stellar effort because of the departure of original vocalist Randy Rampage, those doubts were erased from the beginning of the album. Carnival Diablos was released in January 2001 shortly before Jeff Waters turned 35 years old. Up to this point in their career, Annihilator had a very solid beginning. They released excellent works such as 1990’s Never Neverland, 1993’s Set the World on Fire, and 1994’s King of the Kill. The change of vocalists has never affected the quality of this band’s music and they just seem to get better with time, like a fine red wine that never loses its great taste!

Carnival Diablos: songs 1-7

The album starts off with pure speed as the first song is fast and heavy and a great one to start with as it sets the tone for what is to be expected for the album. There are no soft, commercial songs on here except for the last part. The Perfect Virus is a great mid-tempo and heavy metal kind of song and it sounds like Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell song in a few parts. The next song called “Battered” is just a song filled with pure aggression and speed. The title track “Carnival Diablos’ features some nice background melodic vocals by Jeff Waters which you can hear in the background if you listen closely enough. Starting with the song “Shallow Grave”, this is where things get really interesting. Here we see Joe Comeau doing a pretty good vocal job and the song has got a great groove to it. This is a great one to listen to if you want to sing along to it and get in a great mood right away! The song sounds like what you would hear from the band AC/DC. The next song “Time Bomb” features a part where Joe sounds exactly like Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford. He does a pretty great job at it too as his vocal range is proof of this. He is really able to have his voice hold up too without much strain.

The song called The Rush

Joe Comeau's vocal mastery is especially evident in the second half of the album

Songs like “Insomniac” and “Liquid Oval” are great too. Insomniac is about a person who is obviously unable to sleep in spite of what he or she does. It seems that no matter what they do, they are suddenly awakened by some horrible nightmare. Liquid Oval is another one of the band’s great instrumental songs which they have always been known for. It is certainly much better than the song Bastiage on their 1997 album Remains. “Epic of War” features some vocals by Joe and he sounds like Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson in this one part of the song where it is well past the middle portion of it. Some of the guitar work in the song also sounds like Iron Maiden which is a band that very well could have influenced these guys. The final song in the album “Hunter Killer” starts of slowly and stays that way for about almost two minutes. Then the listener is greeted by all of a sudden fast guitars, pounding drums and a rhythm that will leave him or her wondering how this band could create such an awesome song. Annihilator does a great job of mixing songs up so that they have both slow and fast parts in them. They are able to make things like this really mesh and that ability of theirs says a lot about them. Lovers of songs like “Metal Militia”, “Angel of Death”, and other songs of a similar style will love this one too. The last soft part that is sung by Jeff Waters himself will probably come under major criticism by most heavy metal fans. But this is actually a nice, fun way to end an otherwise heavy, melodic and great heavy metal release. Jeff Waters sing some silly and funny vocals in this one. It is a song designed specifically for kids as Jeff Waters sings: "This is a song all about the best darn food in the world. It's called chick, chick, chicken and corn!"

Overall, Carnival Diablos is most definitely one of the best thrash metal albums of the new and young century and is highly recommended for heavy metal fans everywhere. It is not as good as their second album but it is still an epic, solid release by a great band. Joe Comeau would return in 2002 for the album Waking the Fury. That album is different because of the kind of muddy guitar sound but Carnival Diablos is pure thrash combined with excellent vocals, great speed, and another stand out performance by Jeff Waters!

The song called Time Bomb

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The song called Hunter Killer

The song called Perfect Virus (Pantera influence in this song)

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